Tuesday, 4 November 2008

04 November 2008

They try to make headline arrests, they think every car going by is some big Chicago gang. They ain’t got nothing else to do.” We drove on to Tucson. Tucson is situated in beautiful mesquite riverbed country overlooked by the snowy Catalina range. The city is one big construction job; the people transient, wild, ambitious, busy, gay; washlines, trailers; bustling downtown streets with banners; altogether very Californian. Fort Lowell Road, out where H. lived, wound along lovely riverbed trees in the flat desert. We passed innumerable Mexican shacks in the shady sand till a few adobe houses appeared and the rural PO box with Alan Harrington’s name shining like the promised land on it. We saw Harrington himself brooding in the yard. The poor fellow never dreamed what was bowling down on him. He was a writer, he had come to Arizona to work on his book in peace. He was a tall gangly shy satirist who mumbled to you with his head turned away and always said funny things. His wife and baby were with him in the adobe house, a small one that his Indian stepfather had built. His mother lived across the yard in her own house. She was an excited American woman who loved pottery, beads and books. Harrington had heard of Neal through letters from New York. We came down on him like a cloud, everyone of us hungry, even Alfred the crippled hitchhiker. Harrington was wearing an old Harvard sweater and smoking a pipe in the keen desert air. His mother came out and invited us into her kitchen to eat. We cooked noodles in a great pot. I wanted to meet Harrington’s wild Indian stepfather; he was nowhere around, he got drunk for days on end and howled in the desert like a coyote till the cops threw him in jail. Harrington’s six Indian cousins were also in jail at the time. Neal kept saying “Oh do I dig her!” about H.’s mother. She showed us her favorite rugs and chattered with us like a child. The Harringtons were from Boston. “Who is that fellow with the embryonic hand?” asked H. looking away. “Is that Al Dinkle?” “No, no, we left him in New Orleans.” “Why are you all going to the coast?” “I don’t know.” To add to the confusion John Holmes’ mother suddenly appeared in the yard: she was driving East with friends and had stopped by to see Mrs. H. Neal shuffled and

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